DALLAS – It was raining outside Wednesday night, so the Dallas Mavericks decided to throw a block party inside American Airlines Center.
The results: The Mavs finally righted themselves by blocking a season-high 13 shots and went on to upend the New Orleans Pelicans, 122-119, before a sellout crowd of 20,340. With the win, the Mavs (16-17) snapped a six-game losing streak and were able to feel good about themselves after losing their previous three games by a total of 11 points.
Indeed, it was a gritty performance by the Mavs, who won the rebounding battle by seven, committed just 10 turnovers and converted 32 of 38 shots from the free throw line in overcoming the Pelicans’ three-headed monster combination of Anthony Davis, Julius Randle and Jrue Holiday.
“When you’ve lost six (in a row) and you’re desperate to get a win, this is the kind of win you’ve got to have,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Every little thing that everybody did was needed.
“The most important thing is to get off a losing streak.”
A lot of folks pitched in to help the Mavs get off that losing streak. Rookie Luka Doncic finished the game one rebound shy of his first NBA triple-double as he collected 21 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.
Doncic snapped a tie by drilling a pair of free throws with 30.1 seconds left to push the Mavs’ lead to 121-119. Then after Davis missed a 3-pointer, Doncic snatched the rebound, was fouled and went to the line and split a pair of free throws to pad the Mavs’ lead to 122-119 with 11.7 seconds to go.
Davis, who finished with 32 points and 18 rebounds, then misfired on a game-tying 3-pointer and the Mavs were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Meanwhile, DeAndre Jordan said the Mavs’ aggressive defensive style is what shifted things in their favor.
“We know they’re a team that likes to attack the paint,” said Jordan, who finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds. “They got a lot of guys who can score the basketball in there, so we just wanted to alter shots and if we could block them, block them.
“But overall, just make it tough for those guys.”
Maxi Kleber definitely made it tough for the Pelicans as he responded with 10 points and a career-high six blocks in making his first start of the season. And that’s not counting the few other shots that he altered.
“I knew my job today was to bring another big body in there, because they have two centers playing out there really well,” Kleber said. “We had to do a better job on the rebounding end, and of course, challenging shots.
“That was my part for the game today, so my mindset was going out there and playing defense.”
As a whole, the Mavs’ mindset was going out and getting a win by any means necessary. And they did plenty to make that happen.
J. J. Barea (18 points, seven assists) and Devin Harris (16 points came off the bench to provide a much-needed spark. Barea had 11 of his points in the fourth quarter and Harris added 10 of his points in the final quarter.
On one play, Harris even pump faked – no one was around hm — and waited seemingly forever before finally hoisting and making a 3-pointer that got the Mavs within 105-103 of the Pelicans.
“I just wanted to hold onto the ball long enough so I could shoot it,” Harris said. “A pump fake left so J. J. could get out of the way, right, so Maxi would get out of the way.”
Even Dirk Nowitzki came off the bench and played his best game of the season. In playing both halves for the second time this season, Nowitzki collected seven points and blocked two shots in 12 minutes and kept hearing the roar of the crowd with each shot that he attempted.
“He did a good job out there,” Carlisle sad. “Dirk’s fighting through a lot to be on the court and to compete.
“I gain more respect for him every day, and he helped us out there tonight a lot. The crowd got more into it, he hit a couple of big shots – it was good stuff.’’
It also was some good stuff by Doncic, who heard chants of “MVP, MVP, MVP’ when he went to the charity stripe late in the game.
“I love the fans here,” Doncic said. “They’re amazing. They support us so much, so I really appreciate it.”
The Mavs simply appreciate the fact they were able to collect a win before hitting the road to play the Pelicans in New Orleans on Friday.
“It was good to get a win, it was good to come home and protect home court a little bit after a little slippage that we had,” Jordan said. ‘We had a chance to win in all of those games (on the road last week) and that’s what makes it a little bit more frustrating.”
But thanks to the block party the Mavs had on Wednesday night, all is right in their world again.
NOTES: Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was passionate before Wednesday’s game when talking about the impact Mavs rookie Luka Doncic has had in the NBA this season. “He’s good,” Gentry sad. “I don’t care if he’s 14, he’s a really, really good player. He’s a smart player, and to be honest with you he’s played against pros since he was 15 years old, so it’s not like this is something new for him. He’s played against men his whole life. For him to come over here, there’s no intimidation. And he feels like he’s really good.” How good? “I like his confidence,” Gentry said. “I think he’s confident, but he’s not cocky. I think what he is is that he feels like he’s a really good player, he can play against anyone and you can see it on the floor. He’s a guy that, obviously he’s a great teammate. You can see the chemistry an everything that happens when you watch him play. He’s a guy that really, really enjoys playing. He enjoys playing the game. You can look at it. That’s not hard to see.” Asked who does Doncic reminds him of, Gentry said: “He’s Luka. That’s all he needs to be. He doesn’t need to be anybody else. He’ll be fine being Luka.” . .With Wednesday’s game, forward Dirk Nowitzki has played in the fourth-most games in NBA history at 1,477 games. The top three spots in games played are held by Robert Parish (1,611), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,560) and John Stockton (1,504). Nowitzki entered the game tied with Karl Malone for the fourth spot. . .Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry gave Mavs coach Rick Carlisle one of the highest praises that a coach can receive. “Rick is truly one of the great coaches that we’ve ever had in this league,” Gentry said. “I think what he does offensively is really good. I think what he’s able to do is that he’s able to put his guys in a position where they can be successful. Even I you go way, way back, he’s just been able to put Dirk and those guys in great positions where they can utilize their talents to the fullest. You don’t last as long as he has in this league and do what he’s done without being a really good coach. And he’s a great president of our (coaches) association.”